Graphics add-in board shipments crash from last quarter

Worst seasonal drop since 2008, says Jon Peddie Research.

Shipments of graphics add-in boards (AIBs) took a nose dives in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the latest market report published today by Jon Peddie Research. JPR found that AIB shipments during Q4 2012 behaved according to past years with regard to seasonality, but the drop was considerably more dramatic. AIB shipments decreased 17.3% from the last quarter; the 10 year average is just -0.68%. On a year-to-year comparison, shipments were down 10%.

JPR’s AIB Report tracks computer graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics chips. AIBs are used in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They may be sold directly to customers as after-market products, or they may be factory installed. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry as discrete chips rather than integrated processors.

AIB report 4Q12 change over time

The quarter in general

  • Total AIB shipments decreased this quarter, from the previous quarter by 17.3%, to 14.5 million units
  • Nvidia continues to hold a dominant market share position at 64%; in Q4’12, AMD shipped 4.98 million units, and Nvidia shipped 9.5 million
  • Year-to-year quarterly AIB shipments were down 10% from 16.1 million to 14.5 million units.
  • Almost 37.3 million desktop PCs shipped worldwide in the quarter, an increase of 2.7% compared to the previous quarter (based on an average of reports from Dataquest, IDC, and HSI).

JPR notes that normally, the fourth quarter of the year is down, and this year was no different, with an increase greater than the 10-year average (-0.68%). However, this is just one quarter in a very turbulent year, and the worldwide economic conditions are just too uncertain, so the quarter can’t be used as a prediction of the future.

The 10-year average change for AIBs in the 4th quarter is -0.68%; this year it was lower at -17.3%, the second lowest drop ever, only exceeded by the crash of 2008. Tablets are having an impact on notebooks, and to a lesser extent desktop where AIBs are used. Although improving, there was still a great deal of economic uncertainty in the fourth quarter of 2012 especially as new form factors emerge and Microsoft is rolling in a substantially different operating system for Windows. As predicted some time ago, the embedded GPUs in CPUs are having an impact on the low end, which is the high-volume segment.

AIB 4Q12 market pieThe AIB market now has just four chip (GPU) suppliers, who also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 52 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call, “partners.”

Embedded graphics processors at first were simply replacing integrated chipsets and not having a major impact on AIBs. However, the new embedded graphics processor from AMD, the A10 (Trinity), has shown very good performance and has had an effect on entry-level AIBs.

Year-to-year for the quarter the market decreased 10%. Shipments decreased to 14.5 million units, down 1.6 million units from this quarter last year. The desktop AIB segments decreased in the low end, which we think is to be expected as embedded graphics processors satisfy the requirements of a market with no new or interesting applications or games—as long as Moore’s Law is working and the software developers are complacent, the embedded processors will do well.

There was a slight increase in Enthusiast segments year -to-year, but not enough to offset the loss in Mainstream sales.

About the AIB Report

Jon Peddie Research’s AIB Report is available now in both electronic and hard copy editions, and sells for $1,500. Included with this report is an Excel workbook with the data used to create the charts, the charts themselves, and supplemental information. The annual subscription price for JPR’s AIB Report is $4,000 and includes four quarterly issues. Full subscribers to JPR services receive TechWatch (the company’s bi-weekly report) and are eligible for a 10% discount. Bundle packages are also available. For information about purchasing the AIB Report, please call 415/435-9368 or visit the Jon Peddie Research website at